April 3

More Nursing Home Rule Changes, Courtesy of COVID-19

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More Nursing Home Rule Changes, Courtesy of COVID-19

I want to acknowledge my source for the collection of these rules, available here.

In addition to my earlier post about the rapid changes the government is taking to accommodate people during the unfolding COVID-19 epidemic, I can report that the government is taking additional steps to make sure there are beds available in both hospitals and in nursing facilities. Some of the more important changes for now are as follows:

First, it is possible for a non-nursing home building to be certified – temporarily – as a nursing home. I don't think anyone at the moment knows exactly how that is going to happen other than that the regulations will be written quickly and everyone is going to adapt as best they can given the rapidly increasing need for hospital and nursing beds. I mention hospital beds because the main way to get people into the hospital is to get others OUT of the hospital and into rehab or skilled nursing beds. Facilities can set up temporary rooms in rooms that are not currently being used as patient rooms, such as dining rooms, activity rooms, or even meeting rooms.

Next, the regulations regarding transfer of residents (specifically, involuntary discharge or transfer) have been temporarily loosened. Facilities can move patients within a building, or even to another building, if it is solely for the purpose of separating patients with and without COVID-19. They do not need to issue a formal discharge notice.

Finally, many of the same waivers and changes are still in effect and are becoming easier to work with as we move along. The prior hospitalization requirement for movement to a rehab is waived, as well as the clinical requirements for certifying someone for a rehab stay. There are some waivers in place to make it easier to qualify people for Medicaid clinically (because the nurses cannot get into the buildings).

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